At Home COVID-19 (Antigen) Testing

Testing is an important tool to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. At home, testing may be used for someone who has COVID-19 symptoms, even without a known exposure to a COVID-19 positive person. The test may also be used for someone without symptoms who is a close contact with a person with COVID-19. If testing because of exposure, testing too early may lead to a false negative. The exposed person should be tested 5 days after their contact with the COVID-19 positive person.

What if my test result is Negative?

A negative test result means the virus that causes COVID-19 was not found in your specimen, and you may have a lower risk of transmitting the disease to others. If you took the test while you had symptoms and followed all instructions carefully, a negative result means your current illness is probably not COVID-19, though it does not rule out a COVID-19 infection.

However, a test can give a negative result in some people who have COVID-19. This is called a false negative. You could also test negative if the specimen was collected too early in your infection. In this case, you could test positive later during your illness.

What if my test result is Positive?

You should stay home or isolate yourself for 5 days and wear a mask for 5 days around others. Also, tell a healthcare provider about your positive test result and stay in contact with them. If your illness becomes severe, seek medical attention.

Tell your close contacts that they may have been exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19. A person with COVID-19 can begin spreading it starting 48 hours (or 2 days) before the person has any symptoms or tests positive. By informing your close contacts they may have been exposed, you are helping to protect everyone.

If you think your positive test result may be incorrect, contact a healthcare provider to determine whether or not additional testing is necessary.

My at-home test is Positive, should I get additional testing?

If your at-home test is positive and you are experiencing symptoms or suspected to have been a close contact with a COVID-19 case, no follow-up testing is recommended, treat you are positive for COVID-19.

If your at-home test is positive and you have no symptoms or are not known to be a close contact you can consider the following:

  • Treat as a true positive (you should isolate) but could consider follow-up testing the PCR within 24 hrs of the original test. A negative result on the PCR test may suggest a false positive.
  • If the PCR test is performed more than 24 hrs after the original at-home test, it should be considered a separate test, not a follow-up, and does not impact the original positive antigen result.

How do I report a COVID-19 Home Test? 

If the at-home kit does not have a system to report to public health, please use this link to self-report positive results for COVID-19 test that is administered at home. Do not report tests that have been completed more than 7 days ago. 

Additional Guidance

About At-Home COVID-19 (Antigen) Testing (printable handout)

CDC Self-Testing 

MCOPH Public Health Advisory: Update Interpretation of CLIA-Certified Point of Care Antigen Test

PADOH Point of Care Antigen Test Use and Interpretation, 2021-PAHAN 65-10-15-UPD